IF I LIVED MY LIFE AGAIN
(Cohen A283) (ICS A144)
Little known except to collectors of Churchilliana, this book was compiled from Churchill’s writings and speeches by Jack Fishman, the journalist who had published the first biography of Churchill’s wife, My Darling Clementine, in 1963. Lady Churchill contributed a note stating that sales proceeds would go to Churchill College, Cambridge and to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, the two principal British national memorials to Sir Winston. Longtime friend Jock Colville added a note about these two entities.
Fishman was a skilled journalist and friend of Sir Winston, but he did us no scholarly favors with this work, which is rambling, disconnected, without an index and almost without references to the material. A three-page essay on “sources” lists where Fishman obtained the material, but nothing more specific. Many of the titles are familiar to collectors of Churchill’s periodical articles, but careful readers will find the texts polluted by omissions as well as additions from other sources. In his Preface, Fishman says he produced the book out of a vast archive on the Churchills he had compiled over thirty years and over 600,000 words of notes, only a third of which he used in the Clementine biography. Perhaps he did not realize how diligently scholars would be researching the canon a quarter century and more after his book was published.
That said, Fishman’s work comprises a marvelous read for people who just want to get a grasp of Churchill as journalist, as opposed to a writer of histories, memoirs, and speeches. Fishman begins with a nine-page appreciation of Churchill from the perspective of a fellow journalist that is highly readable and instructive. From there on, he scrupulously provides a text that is all Churchill (wherever it comes from). Some of the chapters are vintage Winston: “The Truth About Myself,” “It’s No Good Arguing With A Communist,” “I’d Sooner Be Right Than Consistent,” “America! America!,” “Why Are We Here?” and, of course, “If I Lived My Life Again.”
Whatever its faults as a research tool, the book is quite entertaining stuff.
-Richard M. Langworth
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Cohen A283 / ICS A144
Publisher: W. H. Allen, London, 1974
Blue-green cloth blocked gilt on spine with title and “Sir Winston Churchill” reading down and publisher’s logo and name reading across at the foot. 8vo, 332 pages numbered (i)-(xx) and (1)-309 (+3). Dust jacket printed three-color with a photograph of Churchill watching a World War II battle on the front face, wrapping around the spine. One impression, without variants, published at £3.95 ($11).
This is the only version published, and since its rediscovery by Churchill booksellers in the mid-1980s, it has become a scarce item.
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